The Baltimore Orioles traded starting pitcher Juan Guzman to the Cincinnati Reds tonight for two minor league pitchers about one hour before baseball's midnight trade deadline. Although Orioles General Manager Frank Wren weighed several other trades in the final hour, he held on to left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes.
The Orioles received B.J. Ryan, a 23-year-old left-hander, who made one appearance during a brief call-up with the Reds this season, and Jacobo Sequea, an 17-year-old Venezuelan, who last year was the youngest player in professional baseball.
The Orioles also agreed to send the Reds an undisclosed amount of cash to pay part of Guzman's $5.25 million salary.
Ryan, a 6-foot-6 left-hander, represented the Reds at the Futures Game at the all-star week festivities in Boston. He was 2-1 with six saves at Class AA Chattanooga and 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA at Class AAA Indianapolis this season. After being drafted in the 15th round in June 1998, he progressed from rookie ball to Class AA by the end of the season, compiling a 2.06 ERA.
The Orioles had not yet decided where to send Ryan, who made one relief appearance for the Reds on July 28, but indicated he may join the Orioles this week.
"He has had a meteoric rise through the Reds' system," Wren said. "We think he can help us out of the bullpen. He'll go to Rochester and get acclimated. I think we could bring B.J. right to the big leagues now. We just don't have the need to do that."
Sequea, 17, was 4-6 with a 4.92 ERA at Class A Rockford this season, with two complete games in 16 starts, and 67 strikeouts in 89 2/3 innings. He was ranked as the 10th-best prospect in the Reds' minor league system this spring by Baseball America. He likely will report to Class A Delmarva.
"He has a well-above-average fastball," Wren said. "We feel like he is the equivalent of being a number-one draft choice if he was 17 years old as a high school kid in the states."
Guzman, 32, was 5-9 with a 4.18 ERA this season. Coincidentally, the Orioles acquired him exactly a year ago at the trade deadline (for pitching prospect Nerio Rodriguez) in hopes of making a stretch run.
The trade of Guzman represents a partial concession that the Orioles will not contend this season. Guzman is considered a perfect "rent-a-pitcher" for a team trying to make a stretch run, and Wren had his choice from several offers.
Guzman will become a free agent at the end of this season, and the Orioles plan to move left-handed prospect Matt Riley into their starting rotation in 2000, making Guzman expendable.
Trades may still be made after the trade deadline, but players must first pass through waivers, and any other team may block the trade by putting in a waiver claim.
The Orioles likely will move Scott Kamieniecki from the bullpen, or call up Doug Linton from Class AAA Rochester to take Guzman's place in their rotation.
Despite entertaining several offers this week, the Orioles decided to keep Rhodes -- even though his agent, Dan Horwits, said Wren had promised to trade him. Wren discussed a trade for Rhodes with the New York Yankees, which involved Class AAA shortstop prospect D'Angelo Jimenez, according to baseball sources. But Wren asked for a second prospect, and the Yankees balked.
Rhodes, who has struggled to a 6.44 ERA this season, becomes a free agent at the end of this season. By not trading him, the Orioles are forced either to sign him to a new contract, or lose him to free agency and receive a high draft pick as compensation.
"There was quite a bit of interest in Arthur, but we didn't feel we got what would be of value," Wren said. "It doesn't make sense to give up on a player like Arthur Rhodes."